Fitness of Canadian adults: results from the 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey

Health Rep. 2010 Mar;21(1):21-35.


Background: Estimates of obesity, based on body mass index (BMI) reveal that Canadian adults have become heavier over the past quarter century. However, a comprehensive assessment of fitness requires additional measures. This article provides up-to-date estimates of fitness levels of Canadians aged 20 to 69 years. Results are compared with estimates from 1981.

Data and methods: Data are from the 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS). Historical estimates are from the 1981 Canada Fitness Survey. Means, medians and cross-tabulations were used to compare fitness levels by sex and age group and between survey years.

Results: Mean scores for aerobic fitness, flexibility, muscular endurance and muscular strength declined at older ages, and BMI, waist circumference, skinfold measurements and waist-to-hip ratio increased. Males had higher scores than females for aerobic fitness, muscular endurance and muscular strength; females had higher scores for flexibility. Muscular strength and flexibility decreased between 1981 and 2007-2009; BMI, waist circumference and skinfold measurements increased.

Interpretation: Based on results of the fitness tests and anthropometric measurements, many Canadian adults face health risks due to suboptimal fitness levels.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Canada
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Movement
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Endurance
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Pliability
  • Young Adult